A Minnesota-based couple has jumped on the relying-on-Internet-voting-to-make-major-life-decisions-for-publicity bandwagon. Greg and Alisha Arnold created the website birthornot.com to have others help them decide whether they should give birth to their now 17-week-old fetus, or to have an abortion. The polls close on December 7, giving her two days to have an abortion, if they decide to, before she reaches 20 weeks and cannot have an abortion.
Gawker has spoken with the couple and they claim they are not conducting a crazy pro-life (anti-choice) stunt because Alisha supports a woman’s right to choose. But evidence against that point is mounting. At face value the ultrasounds and pictures on the site are a suspiciously common visual used by anti-choice advocates. It is also being reported that the husband is a vocal anti-choicer based on his past involvement as blogger and producer for sites such as “Always Right, Always Correct” and “Race to the Right.”
According to their site, the couple’s decision to take this private and important decision to the Internet is as follows:
We would like to keep you informed on our pregnancy as if it was your own; posting our thoughts and feelings as we struggle to make this decision. We would like you to see what we see and feel what we feel. We invite you take this journey with us as we contemplate our own options and encourage you to utilize this site to vote and voice your opinion in a way that will have a real consequence… in a way that truly matters. Here, your vote will not go unheard.
The couple bought the birthornot.com domain earlier this year during Alisha’s second pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage (as did the first). But with this healthy pregnancy, they decided to launch the site and get feedback from the interwebs on how they should deal with it. Why they would want to leave it up to strangers to decide whether or not to carry on with this pregnancy when they’ve had a history of miscarriages seems asinine and shady at best.
Purportedly they had some hackers break into the site and flood the comments with nude pictures and other inappropriate content. Many of the comments I read asked why they haven’t considered adoption instead of abortion, or told them that they would be horrible parents. It is still unknown how the “hacking” has affected the voting which is 54% for the abortion and 46% to have the baby. The Arnolds say that the votes they receive will strongly factor into their decision but it will ultimately be their choice. I agree with Amanda Marcotte’s prediction: they will decide to have the baby and use the opportunity to focus on the “horrors” of abortion.
It will be interesting frightening to see how this plays out. But as Jezebel reported in their interview, the wife, Alisha, seems to already feel remorseful for all of the attention they are receiving. It appears that Pete is the driving force behind this and is lavishing in the attention. Pretty convenient when your body isn’t being used as an anti-choice advertisement. If the goal of this stunt is to truly stimulate discussion and allow people’s voices to be heard as they claim, then I can support that. But what kind of legitimate discourse can be had when these agitators aren’t coming clean with their true motives?